May 29, 2006

An Honor To Honor

Yesterday I went to the annual Memorial Day Service I attend. A couple hundred people attend every year, sitting under a large white tent; it reminds me of a Southern revival, complete with heat and fans.

This is five years in a row now that I’ve attended, the first year a requirement as Regent of my DAR Chapter. The Regent is in charge of our wreath in the wreath laying ceremonies. My expectations were that it was 90 degrees and was to take 2 hours of my day, and at that time, my husband, sister, and kids attended. Morrigan helped me carry the wreath.

Don’t get me wrong, I felt it worthy and was excited, actually, but I’d never done it and with three children, it was something to add to my hectic schedule.

Until then, I did what everyone else seems to do on Memorial Day. I put out my flag and thought about the meaning of Memorial Day, but had never acted on it beyond that.

That was the last and only time the Service was a responsibility. The next year it was still my responsibility, but it was one I marked in big red letters on my calendar and informed my husband of, months in advance.

“I’m attending this Memorial Day Service, and I don’t care how many kids are sick or if I’m bleeding out the eyes. I’m GOING.” was declared the week of.

And I’ve attended every year thereafter and will continue to do so until they no longer have it or until I am physically unable to attend.

It is not an obligation to honor those who have served our country and have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

It is an honor.

This is the service that I attended two years ago and as I watched what went on around me, the Veterans of every war, including WWI, the representatives of every branch of service, the VFW, the Foreign Legion, the ‘Nam Knights, the woman’s auxiliary groups, the speakers, the children, the widows… I thought, “I would so blog this.”

It was a catalyst in my starting to blog. As Harvey was gently prodding me and as I was continually resisting, it was the Memorial Day service that was the first thought that I might start to blog.

So today I sat amongst the people, and I watched the wreath laying ceremony. Behind me sat some women from the Daughters of the Confederacy, dressed as widows from the Civil War, full heavy black dresses, with hoops and black hats, gloves, and black lace umbrellas, representing the widows from all our wars.

Nephews and the sister of a young soldier, who died in Gulf War I, laid a beautiful yellow wreath.

The ‘Nam Knights stood proudly as they carried their wreath… and I do believe there are now 500 bikers in their membership. They help homeless veterans.

Representatives from every war, branch of service, and specialty within the services laid wreaths.

Ladies Auxiliary groups, genealogy groups, and sometimes just people who wanted to show their respect… all paid their respects with a wreath.

I found a man dear to me, who I always seek at this service, could not attend as he’s fallen and is healing. I need to send him a card… and it was a not so gentle reminder that our WWII veterans are leaving us quickly.

I heard a man I worked with at Company X died in November. A former Marine and the first organizer of the Marine Corps Birthday Ball here in Palm Beach County. How I missed hearing of his death, I will never know. I couldn’t believe it. That alone kept me somber the entire ceremony.

From 3 months old to nearly 100 years old, we were all in attendance. From uniforms to casual clothes, so Sunday best. All were welcome.

And to the peels of the bagpipes, the Marine Corps Honor Guard brought in the colors.
And to the peels of the bagpipes, the same Honor Guard retired the colors.

And we all sang the National Anthem.
And we all sang God Bless America.
And in unison we said The Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America.

And I caught my breath when a soldier from the Army stabbed his rifle into the ground, and around it placed dog tags and then atop of it placed a helmet, in front of the red Wreath of Honor… red to signify the blood that was shed.

And we all jumped during the 21 gun salute, although we were all prepared.

And we all gritted our teeth and held our breaths during the playing of Taps.

And when it was over, we all walked over to look at all the wreaths and commented on what a beautiful ceremony it was… and how we’d all be back next year.

Once a year seems hardly enough for what has been given us for Freedom.

(Click to Enlarge)
Wreath of Honor.JPG

Posted by Boudicca at May 29, 2006 08:58 AM | TrackBack

Awesome post!

Posted by: Denny at May 29, 2006 07:17 AM

I cried reading this.

Posted by: vw bug at May 29, 2006 07:30 AM

VW- Next year you should come with me. Sit with my ladies and you will not regret it. We will plan this out for next year.

Posted by: Bou at May 29, 2006 07:35 AM

... beautifully said, Boudicca....

Posted by: Eric at May 29, 2006 09:45 AM

I remember you writing about this last year - it always brings tears to my eyes.

Posted by: Teresa at May 29, 2006 10:21 AM

Beautiful post. Thank you.

Posted by: Richmond at May 29, 2006 10:31 AM

wonderful post! wonderful!

Posted by: oddybobo at May 29, 2006 02:45 PM

Great post...I put my flag up just before Memorial Day 2001. Left it up with the 4th approaching. Decided to leave it up a little longer.

It has never come down, and never will.

Posted by: Yabu at May 30, 2006 10:46 AM

It has already been said, but that was just beautiful. Thank you for writing it.

Posted by: Dash at May 30, 2006 05:06 PM

Thanks Bou

Posted by: GUYK at May 30, 2006 05:55 PM

Wow! That was great!

Posted by: Jerry at May 30, 2006 09:18 PM

Thanks, Bou.

Posted by: Jim - PRS at May 30, 2006 09:37 PM

I haven't made it dry-eyed through Memorial Day service yet.

Posted by: Bob at May 31, 2006 07:58 AM